Ann Provan

Where the Staircase Ends

<em>Still Green</em>, 2020, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 40 inches.
Still Green, 2020, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 40 inches.

Abstract painter Ann Provan contrasts angular patterns with the earthy tones of the woods surrounding her Upstate New York home. “I try to work the geometric features into a complex arrangement so that they have some ambiguous space and multiple readings,” she says. “as well as a rewarding experience with color.” Over the past two years, she has created a large body of work that incorporates blues, yellows, and greens in Escher-like compositions (“but not as hokey,” she says), some of which were recently on view at the Garrison Art Center in New York.

“I sometimes see figures in my painting. I don’t want them to be overt,” Provan says. “I want it to be ambiguous enough that I’m not clobbering you over the head with, Oh I see a face there.” She begins each work by sketching boxy, angular designs in a notebook before playfully mixing and stretching the paint on the canvas. The shapes that emerge blend a Surrealist subject matter — shapes conjured from her subconscious meant to visually trick the viewer into seeing patterns shift on the canvas as they move around it — and a meditation on the pure joys of color-mixing.  “I want to use [each work] as something to slow down the viewer so you can look at it and be interested in looking at it for a little bit longer,” she says. “I think slowing down is an important thing when looking at art.”

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Noelani Kirschner is a former assistant editor for the Scholar.


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